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August 25, 2018 - 12:20am

Restitution still pending in former nurse's seven-year-old theft case

posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, bergen, news.

Michelle Ann Case, now 50, and twice convicted of stealing money from her former employer, HomeCare & Hospice, has yet to pay back any of the more than $14,000 she took by falsifying business records.

The former Bergen resident was back in County Court today for a restitution hearing, which consisted primarily of her attorney, Public Defender Jerry Ader, and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman providing Judge Charles Zambito reams -- one of the four folders was three-inches thick -- of reading material.

The folders contained trial transcripts, transcripts of the 2012 restitution hearing, and documentation of the falsified reports.

By law, Case will be required to pay at least $3,000, the amount specified by the language of the statute in penal law she violated, but only a judge, after reviewing evidence, can order a defendant to pay more than that statutory amount.

Legal troubles for Case go back to at least 2010 when she was arrested and accused of stealing more than $35,000 from two elderly patients. Those charges were dismissed with no explanation from Judge Robert C. Noonan and the case files were sealed.

In 2011, Case was arrested again, this time accused of submitting false claims for hours worked and miles driven to HomeCare & Hospice. She was convicted March 1, 2012, and sentenced to four months in jail and probation.

Nearly two years later, an appeals court overturned her conviction and ordered a new trial.

The jury again returned a guilty verdict in July 2014.

At her sentencing in August 2014, Case told Noonan, she had done nothing wrong and said the real criminals were the executives at HomeCare & Hospice.

"These rules were new and used retroactively to make my legitimate paid time into unpaid time in an attempt by Hospice to claim I stole from them and in effect steal themselves," Case said. "They then fraudulently submitted their so-called losses to insurance and filed a false report to the police."

Noonan sentenced Case to probation.

But that left the matter of restitution unresolved. 

Friedman argued that there had already been a restitution hearing on the same facts and Case had been ordered to pay $14,000 in restitution. An appeals court saw it differently and ordered a new restitution hearing. Fortunately, Friedman said, it was unnecessary this time to call all the witnesses in again. The transcripts are all Zambito needs to review the case and render a decision.

Zambito will review the documents over, at least, the next 30 days, perhaps longer, before issuing a decision.

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